Glenrothes 1997 Oak Barrel Exclusive

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A 1997 vintage from the Speyside Glenrothes distillery bottled by The Oak Barrel for Sydney Whisky Fair 2017.

Matured in a sherry cask, this was bottled in 2017 with natural colour and un-chill filtered. It is offered at cask strength 51.7%.

There are 60 hand-numbered bottles in the outturn.

A spirit of the highest quality, Glenrothes’ history is defined by its use by blenders. A key element of Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark throughout its history, the spirit has been in wide demand by blenders across Scotland.

Since the turn of the millennium, however, Glenrothes has become a powerful force in the single malt world with their grenade-shaped bottles and vintages-over-age statements approach and a proliferation of independent bottlings has followed.

Built in 1878 in the heart of Speyside, the inspiration for Glenrothes came from a consortium of businessmen who had recently acquired the thriving Macallan distillery. A time of economic downturn, the distillery was nonetheless built and with a few management restructures came to life. In 1887, when it was known as Glen Rothes-Glenlivet, merged with Islay’s Bunnahabhain to form the historic Highland Distilleries Company.

Glenrothes has enjoyed a relatively charmed life (apart from the odd fire) since and it underwent significant expansion through the 1960s to late 1980s. The distillery’s late arrival to the single malt game can be put down, in part, for it being a victim of its own success, the blenders were demanding everything they produced.

The modern spirit from Glenrothes is sweet, but quite rich and the weight is evident in lengthy maturations, whereby a creamy mouthfeel is often the house style. The spirit sings in sherry casks, the richness balancing out fruits and drawing out elegance from the oak.

There’s no second guessing where our 1997 grew up – if the colour doesn’t give the sherry cask away, the nose will. Plum fruits and floral blossoms, it’s polished but with a bit of a mean streak. The mean streak grows quickly, it’s dirty and brash. A run of gun smoke, a flourish of preserved jam. The palate is cleaner, with ground nutmeg spice and a bit of oak influence. Finish shows its age, not as jumpy as it once was but not quite ready to enter old age yet. The burnt matches subside with time and that fruit returns to the fore. Fruit at the start, fruit at the end, pure grit in the middle.

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Single Malt